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Elegantly Restored Luxury Residential Shophouses in Singapore

Singapore, a city-state renowned for its rich heritage and modern architecture, houses a remarkable collection of Shophouse properties, built between the 1940s-1960s colonial era, that seamlessly blend history with contemporary design. With an estimated 6,500 shophouses in Singapore this rare property type is in high demand from both local and foreign investors. In the first half of 2023 a transaction volume of S$711.6 million was recorded with a projection of up to S$1.5 billion in sales for 2023 according to Knight Frank.

shophouse Singapore

These architectural gems, originally conceived as dual-purpose establishments, adeptly intertwining commerce and habitation within their narrow facades, have led me on an exploratory odyssey throughout Singapore.  

The design of shophouses have changed over time periods and spread across the these styles; First Transitional, Late, Art Deco, Rococo, Edwardian, Neoclassical and Modern. interconnecting these shophouses was a sheltered passage christened the “five-foot way,” named for the prescribed width of precisely five feet between the edifice and the street. Over time, this architectural style metamorphosed into two-story residential terrace houses, offering dual occupancy on both levels

In this exploration, we embark on a journey to uncover six unique homes that epitomize the art of preservation and transformation of this desired luxury property type. 

Property 1: The Red Dragon 

No. 13 Lorong 24A Geylang

Our first stop is a truly unique shophouse conservation and extension project. Stepping inside, you’re immediately captivated by the presence of two striking red spiral staircases. One, in particular, resembles a majestic “red dragon.” This architectural marvel is nestled within a 4-story light well, perfectly situated between the conserved building and a new 4-story extension, gracefully spiraling upwards to the rooftop terrace.

This property is part of an exclusive group of 8 shophouses that earned the prestigious Architectural Heritage Awards in 2013. It’s a harmonious blend of heritage conservation and contemporary design, making it a standout gem in its historic neighborhood.

The Red Dragon
The Red Dragon source: Hyla Architects

Property 2: The Niven Road Studio

Niven Road

Our journey continues with the Niven Road Studio, a testament to architectural ingenuity. Owned by Warner Wong, an architect with a passion for preservation, this shophouse was acquired in 1996. In 2003, it received the coveted heritage listing, prompting a meticulous restoration and extension project that would leave anyone in awe.

The heart of this property lies in a central courtyard, now home to a lush swimming pool and garden space. Wooden louvers offer privacy and the flexibility to control the flow of natural light. The pièce de résistance is the pool deck, composed of three independently movable wooden slabs. This ingenious design allows for a seamless transition between interior and exterior spaces, a true embodiment of contemporary living.

The Niven Road Studio —Source: iamarchitect

Property 3: The Pre-War Shophouse

Robertson Quay

Nestled near Robertson Quay, our third destination is a pre-war shophouse that stands as a historic treasure turned modern gem. Spanning an impressive 3,905 sq ft, this property comfortably accommodates three generations. Sarah Tham, the design director at Cube Associate Design, played a pivotal role in orchestrating a harmonious union of the old and the new.

A vertical green courtyard serves as a focal point, creating a seamless transition from the entrance to the kitchen. The original 3.5-meter high ceiling was meticulously reinstated, lending an air of spaciousness to the living and dining areas. Cleverly concealed storage maximizes the use of space. This shophouse is a testament to the perfect marriage of heritage charm and contemporary comfort.

Luxury shophouse
The Pre-War Shophouse- Source: homeanddecor

Property 4: Colonial-Era Shophouse Home

Singapore Address: 59 Blair Road

Number 59 Blair Road, Singapore, stands as a colonial-era home transformed into a modern shophouse masterpiece by the ingenious minds at ONG&ONG. Nestled on a trapezium-shaped site, this property boasts a lush swimming pool and garden, cleverly overlooked by bedrooms and a lower living room adorned with floor-to-ceiling glass.

Wooden louvers offer privacy when desired or can be opened to reveal an unobstructed view of the surroundings. The defining feature is the unique pool deck, comprised of three independently controlled wooden slabs. This innovative design blurs the line between indoors and outdoors, resulting in a space that is perfect for entertaining.

Colonial Era Shophouse lux
Colonial Era Shophouse Source: homestratosphere

Property 5: The Wooden Oasis 

Singapore Address: 31 Everton Road

Our next destination transports you to an exquisite sanctuary of conservation and interior design brilliance. As you enter, you’re greeted by a rich tapestry of wooden accents. The meticulously crafted doors, walls, shelves, and window frames whisper tales of tradition and culture, seemingly in conversation with every footstep on the gleaming marble floors.

This property is a masterpiece within its category, effortlessly marrying the timeless appeal of wood with the luxury of marble. The ambiance is modern, yet it exudes a warmth and coziness, reminiscent of stories told around a familial hearth. A visit to this home feels like stepping into a living, breathing narrative where the past intertwines with the present, offering a truly immersive experience in Singapore’s architectural heritage.

The Wooden Oasis- Source : richardhoarchitects

Property 6: The Lucky Shophouse

Singapore Address: Joo Chiat Place, 2012

Embark on a journey back in time with the Lucky Shophouse—a testament to Singapore’s historical charm nestled in the heart of the Joo Chiat and Katong conservation district. 

Originally built in the 1920s and once home to the bustling Lucky Book Store, this shophouse is a homage to the rich tapestry of Singaporean heritage. The meticulous restoration reveals a tale of memory and modernity. The façade, stripped of its layered paint, now showcases its authentic tones, safeguarded under sealers to honor its storied past. The iconic ‘LUCKY BOOK STORE’ sign remains etched on a pillar, a nostalgic nod to bygone days.

Inside, the Lucky Shophouse unfurls into a spacious abode where history’s echo meets contemporary needs. Non-structural partitions have been removed, allowing the original brickwork, timber rafters, and floor joists to bask in newfound appreciation. The dance between old and new continues with carefully placed columns and interfaces delineating the historic walls from modern additions. In contrast, fragments of the original boundary walls are silent witnesses to the site’s evolution.

The layout is a study of simplicity and flexibility, curating a harmonious balance between open communal spaces and intimate nooks. Furniture and fixtures align along a central axis, freeing the peripheral views to the greenery that beckons from beyond the brick walls. The shophouse culminates in a 55-meter vista stretching towards a verdant garden, a tranquil canvas for the single-story extension that now graces the property.

The Lucky Shophouse [source:]

In our journey through these six remarkable properties, we’ve witnessed the transformation of history into modern elegance. From the captivating “red dragon” spiral staircase to the ingenious design of the Niven Road Studio, from the harmonious blend of old and new in the Robertson Quay shophouse to the colonial-era home’s metamorphosis into a contemporary oasis, and finally, the luxurious waterfront marvels of Sentosa Cove—each property showcases the vibrant spirit of Singapore’s architectural heritage.

These homes are more than just places to reside; they are living works of art. They serve as a testament to the architects and designers who have beautifully preserved and enhanced these spaces, allowing history and modern comfort to coexist seamlessly. In Singapore, where tradition meets innovation, these properties stand as shining examples of a harmonious blend between the past and the present.

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